Writing Tips for How to Write Scenery in Novels
In many novels, the scenery and setting work as a character and provide an important context and understanding of the novel's purpose and meaning. Even if the setting isn't of prime importance for your novel, it is important to make sure that your writing gives the reader a clear and evocative sense of the scenery and location in which your novel takes place to better create a believable and engaging fictional world.
Describe a Particular Place
When writing a novel, make sure that your scenery is specific to the place in which you have set your story. The reader should be able to see the setting in a particular place from your details, not just general descriptions of trees, mountains and lakes. Try to use aspects of a specific landscape, such as tree types, specific bodies of water and levels of elevation that evoke a particular location. Even if your location is imagined, you should still have a clear idea of its climate, foliage and general appearance.
Use the Senses
When you describe scenery, be sure to use all five senses to fully convey the setting. Most writers focus on the visuals of a scene, which is central to conveying scenery properly, but remember that there are also sound-related images, tactile images, images related to smell and those related to taste. For example, by bringing in sound, you can set the scene by describing if birds are chirping, trees are creaking in the wind or dust is blowing against a car window. Make use of all of the senses to create a vivid scene.
Use your descriptions of scenery as a way to enhance your plot, not detract from it. For example, a long description of the view from a window is relevant only if the scene happening between the characters can somehow relate to it, or if you can use it to convey mood or emotion. Use the scenery, and the aspects of the scenery you choose to focus on, as a way to move forward and enrich the plot. Your scenery description should be relevant to the action at hand and the human drama at the center of the novel.
Work Throughout the Story
Instead of putting your scenery in large chunks in just a few places, work the scenery throughout the novel, particularly in places where the scenery can contribute to your overall goal in the story. Integrate your descriptions of scenery in subtle moments throughout the novel and discuss scenery in large chunks of exposition only if the plot of the story calls for it.
Ann Trent has been publishing her writing since 2001. Her work has appeared in "Fence," the "Black Warrior Review" and the "Denver Quarterly." Trent received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Ohio State University and has attended the Macdowell Colony. She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in counseling.